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Almond shortbread cookies

The dough makes a perfect 'slice and bake' roll, perfect for portioning out cookies for afternoon teas or holiday parties.

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    These almond shortbread cookies make an excellent 'slice and bake' dough, perfect for portioning out cookies for afternoon teas or holiday parties.
    The Pastry Chef's Baking
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Almond shortbread cookies are a great holiday cookie possibility if you want something easy to mix up, that can be made ahead of time, and baked off whenever you need it and however many you need and is delicious.

First, the dough is quick and easy to make, not to mention handles beautifully, meaning it isn't dry or crumbly nor is it sticky and wet. Instead, it's easy to shape into logs before wrapping and putting into the refrigerator or freezer until you need it. I recommend freezing it until you're ready to bake then simply take out and let thaw for 10-15 minutes before slicing.

Second, the beauty of this is it's literally a "slice and bake" cookie. So when you're ready to bake, simply slice off the number of cookies you need. The important thing is to slice the cookies of even thickness. You don't want them too thick or they'll need to bake too long to get them to optimal crunch. You don't want them too thin or thin at the edges and thick in the middle or they won't bake evenly and your edges will be overbaked/too brown while the middles will be underbaked or "just right."

Recommended: Christmas cookies for everyone on your list

But it isn't hard to slice evenly and after that, you can crowd them a little on the baking sheet since they don't really spread. Make sure to bake long enough that the edges are brown but also that the middles have some color. This is the rare time I don't advocate underbaking. You want to bake long enough to get a beautiful golden color plus to get that "snap" of shortbread once it's cool.

This is also a delicious tea cookie; it would go well for an afternoon tea party or in holiday gifts. Just bake it off at the last-minute though and make sure it's stored in an airtight container. These are best consumed the day of baking to get the optimal crunch and flavor.

Almond shortbread cookies
From Julia's Album

cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
1 cup confectioners' sugar
1 teaspoon amaretto liquor (I used vanilla extract)
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups all-purpose flour (dip and sweet method)
3/4 cup almonds, chopped or sliced, toasted

1. In a large mixing bowl, cream butter, sugar, amaretto and salt until smooth and creamy.

2. With mixer on low speed, add flour and mix until dough forms.

3. Fold in almonds with a rubber spatula.

4. Form dough into 2 rectangular logs. Wrap each log in plastic wrap. Freeze logs for at least 40 minutes in the freezer then 20 minutes in the refrigerator.

5. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.

6. With a sharp knife, cut dough into 1/4" thick slices, arrange them on baking sheets 1-inch apart. Bake until edges are edges, about 12 minutes. Cool on baking sheet for 10 minutes then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.

Related post on The Pastry Chef's Baking: Butter Toffee Crunch Shortbread

The Christian Science Monitor has assembled a diverse group of food bloggers. Our guest bloggers are not employed or directed by The Monitor and the views expressed are the bloggers' own and they are responsible for the content of their blogs and their recipes. All readers are free to make ingredient substitutions to satisfy their dietary preferences, including not using wine (or substituting cooking wine) when a recipe calls for it. To contact us about a blogger, click here.

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